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How Perfection-loving Indian Cricket Cost Suryakumar Yadav

Suryakumar Yadav’s exclusion from the Indian T20 squad, which will tour Australia in November-December, depicts India’s distinctive love for cricket quite impeccably. While the country has remained unrivalled in their criminal love for cricket, the ever-evolving game has taken the unsightly route to success leaving it’s aesthetic Indian fans behind.

It is almost ironic how India were the first country to win the ICC TwentyT20 World Cup in 2007 and to come up with the most successful T20 League a year later, but have still struggled to grasp the concept of the shortest format of the game.

 

WHY INDIA HAVE FAILED IN T20

Indian have not won a single T20 World Cup since 2007 – with West Indies winning it twice while England, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka all getting their hands on it once each since then – and there is a very good reason for it.

If the game of cricket has ever been an art, then the twenty-twenty format is the closest that science has come to art. If the classical cricket formats (Test and ODI) are gauged by human traits like instinct, quality and grit, the T20 format is blatantly formulaic and gauged by calculations and matchups.

Now, while cricketing boards like Australia, England, and West Indies have seemingly cracked the code, the BCCI, even with its unlimited resources, has been unwilling to look in the right direction. Like the cricket lovers in India, the country’s cricket board is obsessed with the picture-perfect straight drive and the envious outswinger.

While cricket’s aura is still captured in those atypical shots and deliveries, success in T20 format has been achieved by more scientific minds. Hence, India’s last memory of T20 glory dates back to playing days of Virender Sehwag, Irfan Pathan and Yuvraj Singh.

 

OBSESSION WITH PERFECTION

“Time” is the only thing of essence in T20 cricket because the format hardly offers any to its players. On average, every player gets eleven balls to make a mark with the bat, which renders parameters like average and highest score insignificant. Hence, a player scoring 75 off 60 balls is a liability in T20 when put against a quickfire 10-balls-30.

One look at the Indian batsmen in the T20 squad – Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, and Manish Pandey – and it is evident that BCCI is still blinded by the traditional stroke players over hard-hitters.

There is a reason why Kohli is not the greatest batsman Indian T20 League has ever seen or KL Rahul’s recent campaign in the Indian T20 League – where he is an orange cap contender with 670 runs – didn’t help Punjab seal a playoff berth. Success in T20 format comes in strike rate, both with the bat and the ball, and not averages.

 

WHY SKY WAS THE LIMIT FOR INDIA

Suryakumar Yadav – aka SKY – has been the talk of the town since India’s squad release because of the unique form that he is in. Coming first down for Mumbai, the local lad has really found the sweet spot with his willow. Yadav has faced 273 balls so far, hitting 54 boundaries and eight sixes in them. He tallies 410 runs in 14 matches in the ongoing season at a strike rate of 150.18.

India’s usual first down in T20 matches, Virat Kohli has a current strike rate of 122.01 in the tournament, while Iyer has 122.74. Both have garnered more runs than Yadav so far, which has blindsided BCCI’s selection committee and pointed out India’s flaw in understanding T20 cricket.

This, however, will be an opportunity lost for both India and Suryakumar Yadav, because keeping a consistent strike rate is rare and the management should have bet on the ones in the zone with a contingency plan in place. Another cricketer who exudes a similar T20 acumen is Rishabh Pant, who has been excluded from the squad as well.

India’s T20 squad is an ODI batting order remodelled for a shorter format, and while India’s bowling firepower could take them the distance, glory isn’t anywhere near the corner.

 

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